Saturday, November 13, 2004

Day 10

Yes, no Day 9 cos I was away in Bristol and got nothing done, good job I was a day ahead. Chris Baty reckons the 2nd week is the hardest, like a weasel nipping you but it's going OK so far, I'd like to have a better plan though, don't exactly know where it's going to end.

Things were obviously going too well, so fate decided to lend a hand by screwing our lives up again. Only this time it wasn’t the Dream Police, but the real police.
You’ve already gathered that Shuggsy has been a bit of a boy in the past, he still thinks of himself as a ne’er-do-well I guess, but he hasn’t been in real trouble with the law for years, since his joy-riding days in fact. So when the phone rang and a female voice announced herself as PC Birch and said she had an Allan Burns on the line wanting to speak with me, my first thought was that he was having a laugh. I actually said something like, ‘come on Shugs stop pissin’ around’, but he sounded really worried, his voice low and shaky.
“George, I’m in a wee bit of bother. Can you do us a favour?” he said. He didn’t or couldn’t tell me much during our short conversation but it transpired that he had been arrested and charged with breaking and entering, burglary and being in possession of stolen property. My first job was to sort him out with a solicitor, he could have had a legal aid duty solicitor, but seeing as I still had a bit of my winnings left, I got in touch with the solicitor who had sorted out the transfer of mum’s house to me and he recommended a colleague. After a night and most of the rest of the next day spent in the cells, and a brief court appearance, the solicitor managed to negotiate bail which I stood surety for on production of the car log book and house deeds as security, then Shuggsy was released into the custody of the solicitor. It was only when a very contrite Shuggsy was dropped off at the house that I got the full story out of him. Marlene was also home and we sat on opposite sides the sofa as he told us the complete sorry tale.

Turns out that Shugs had got talking to a bloke in the Primrose, who was impressed with the big man’s size and strength and said he could put some work his way if he was interested. All it would involve would be some driving and some waiting around while the bloke made some calls, for which he would give Shuggs two hundred and fifty quid a trip, cash in hand.
Shugs reckoned the bloke, who he only knew as Tony, had said it was all legit, it was just that some of the characters he dealt with a bit unsavoury and having someone of Shuggsy’s stature around would persuade them to deal with Tony without any nonsense. Also Tony reckoned he’d picked up a driving ban, nothing too serious, just a year for being a wee bit over the limit. By now a few alarm bells would probably be ringing in mine, and any other but the most naïve berk’s brain. Unfortunately Shuggsy was that naïve berk and he’d agreed to the plan. The first couple of trips went off without a hitch apparently and only took around an hour each, an hour which Shuggsy would only have spent in the Primrose anyway. The trip that ended in disaster started with Tony belling Shuggsy’s mobile and asking him to meet him at a shop on the other side of town. Shuggs had driven up there in our Fiesta, but thankfully had parked it some distance away in a multi storey car park, where it remained now. When Shuggs knocked on the door, it was answered by a spotty youth who had motioned Shuggsy in. Tony was in the back of the shop, which was abandoned and didn’t look as if it had been open for business for years. He was counting wads of tatty looking notes and peeled off a ream and tossed it towards Shuggs and said it was an advance because it was going to be a long night and he’d be on overtime. The youth had sniggered at that but Shuggs hadn’t been unduly bothered. Once Tony had finished counting the cash, he’d wedged it into a holdall and thrown the bag at Shuggsy and told him to follow him out the back. Parked up was a knackered transit van with painted out windows, Tony had slid up into the passenger seat and tossed the keys to Shuggs to drive. For the next three hours they’d driven out into the countryside, then back into town via some back roads, whilst Tony sat and made calls on his mobile. He’d never mentioned any names or places but seemed content to carry on with the circuitous route that he was directing Shuggs on. Eventually he seemed satisfied that they’d travelled far enough and directed Shuggsy to an industrial estate that I’d never heard of, just north of town. They’d pulled up on some wasteland, while Tony had made another call, this time mentioning Jesters and Crowns, whatever they were. Then he told Shuggsy to wait in the driver’s seat whilst Tony disappeared into the back of the van. Shuggs hadn’t turned round but after a lot of rustling and zipping, Tony had reappeared with two more sports bags, one of which he passed to Shuggs and told him to follow him to a small prefab type hut at the far end of the land they’d parked on. Once there, Tony had produced a key and unlocked the door, and pulled a torch out to light their way. Apparently, Tony had then instructed Shuggsy to unfold some step ladders and climb up them in the middle of the hut. Then he’d had to remove two of the ceiling tiles which revealed a false roof structure. Then Tony had told him to crawl up into the roof space and wait while Tony joined him. Shuggsy had got up into the space, not without some difficulty, but then as he sat their in the dark, he heard a bump and what sounded like the door opening. He’d waited for a couple of minutes but all was quiet, then he’d shuffled back to the opening. He’d swung his legs back down the ladder to investigate, and was met at the bottom by two uniformed policeman who promptly nicked him. Tony had scarpered, leaving Shuggsy banged to rights on the premises with a stolen van containing a holdall half full of dirty cash outside. Before Shuggsy had recovered from this setback, two plain clothes officers emerged from the hut carrying two bin bags which contained what were believed to be ecstasy tablets, “bloody hundreds of them.” Then he was read his rights and whisked from the scene in a police car to the police station where he’d phoned me.

At the end of his story, I blew my cheeks out with the stress of hearing the inevitable ending and Marlene put a consoling arm round Shuggsy. The poor bloke looked abject. I was struggling to find a silver lining, as it really looked like Shuggsy was going take the fall for this one, unless we could find this Tony character. I volunteered to go to the Primrose with Shuggs to ask around, whilst Marlene rang the solicitor to make an appointment for Shuggs to speak to him and get his story straight before the next court appearance which had been set for two month’s time. We both agreed that if Shuggsy was to play the dumb card, he might get away with being the unwitting accomplice, despite the fact that he’d been caught hands on. If we could find Tony and get the police onto him, maybe he would get the more severe punishment as the ringleader, always supposing the police believed that he was the organiser. Personally speaking, I thought they wouldn’t have any doubts once they’d spoken to Shuggsy, he was hardly capable of coming up with a plan to buy and deal drugs, and besides, he had been straight for so long it wouldn’t have even occurred to him to do it.
Our enquiries at the pub drew a blank. Shuggsy did most of the talking which I was glad about, the clientele of the Primrose were a uniformly dodgy set of shifty blokes who would have seen right through Grant’s ‘geezer’ act straight away. Of course, Tony hadn’t been in and the barman wasn’t even sure where he lived, although he suggested a couple of areas where he might live or hang out. Predictably, no-one knew his surname. We returned home, with Shuggs in an even morose mood than when we had set off. I could hardly blame him, the future looked none too bright for him from where we stood, and unless we could come up with something soon, Shuggsy was looking at jail time and plenty of it.

Word Count: 1,475
Word of the day: ne’er-do-well

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